Multiple Identities: Migrants, Ethnicity, and Membership

Multiple Identities: Migrants, Ethnicity, and Membership

Multiple Identities: Migrants, Ethnicity, and Membership

Multiple Identities: Migrants, Ethnicity, and Membership


In recent years, Europeans have engaged in sharp debates about migrants and minority groups as social problems. The discussions usually neglect who these people are, how they live their lives, and how they identify themselves. Multiple Identities describes how migrants and minorities of all age groups experience their lives and manage complex, often multiple, identities, which alter with time and changing circumstances. The contributors consider minorities who have received a lot of attention, such as Turkish Germans, and some who have received little, such as Kashubians and Tartars in Poland and Chinese in Switzerland. They also examine international adoption and cross-cultural relationships and discuss some models for multicultural success.


Paul Spickard

The face of europe is changing. people who are not supposed to be there are there in abundance. Each nation of Europe has its own story, but each imagines itself as a naturally ethnically homogeneous place. Yet each contains large numbers of people who do not fit that ethnic self-definition. Some are migrants (see Table 1.1), some domestic minorities of long standing. Despite the fond wishes of some members of the dominant ethnic group in each country, the migrants are not going back where they came from. in many cases, they are already two or three generations resident in their European host country. the degree to which they have succeeded in making places for themselves in their host societies – and, conversely, the amount of discrimination they experience – varies widely.

Over the past several years, the peoples of most European nations and their leaders have engaged in sharp debates about migrants, less so about domestic minorities. Such discussions have focused on migrants as social problems, as people with deficits that need to be measured and remediated, and, all too often, as people who ought to go away. the discussions have in most cases missed who the migrants and minorities are, how they live their lives, and what the content of their identities may be. Simply put, policy makers and the educated public in Europe need to know more about migrants and minorities, how they conceive of themselves, and how they actually live their lives.

The scholars who wrote this book are all students of the lived experiences of migrants and minorities in Europe. It turns out that migrants and minority group members have complex identities, often multiple . . .

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